Tyranny, Blue Gene (real name, Robert Nathan Sheff)

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Tyranny, Blue Gene (real name, Robert Nathan Sheff)

Tyranny, Blue Gene (real name, Robert Nathan Sheff), American keyboardist and composer; b. San Antonio, Jan. 1,1945. He studied piano and composition privately (1957-62), winning a BMI Student Composers award for his Piano Sonata on Expanding Thoughts (1961). He was active in the ONCE Group in Ann Arbor (1962-68), helping to establish its reputation for mixed media and cross-cultural performance; also taught keyboard and jazz composition at Mills Coll. in Oakland, Calif. (1971-81). He made numerous recordings, and performed with Laurie Anderson and Peter Gordon; collaborated on Robert Ashley’s Perfect Lives (Private Parts) (1976-83); also wrote scores for dance, theater, film, and video. A 1975 fire destroyed about half of his early scores, many of which he is reconstructing. Tyranny is an important proponent of integrating jazz and rock elements into concert music; the range of imagination and genre evidenced by his catalog is remarkable.

Works procedural scores

The Interior Distance (1960; realized for 7 Instruments or Voices, 1990); How to Make Music from the Sounds of Your Daily Life (1967; realized on Tape as Country Boy Country Dog); How to Do It (1973; intentionally incomplete); Archaeo-Acoustics (The Shining Net) (1977); PALS/Action at a Distance (1977); The Telekinesis Tape (1977); Taking Out the Garbage (1977); The Intermediary (1981; realized for Piano, Tape, and Computer); The More He Sings, The More He Cries, The Better He Feels...Tango (1984; realized for Tape and Piano; orchestrated, 1985); A Letter from Home (1986; orig. for Voice and Electronics, 1976); Somewhere in Arizona, 1970 (1987); Extreme Realizations Just Before Sunset (Mobile) (1987; realized for Tape and Piano). OTHER: Music for 3 Beginsfor Tapes and Audio Engineer (1958); 4 Choralesfor Keyboard and Electronic Sampling (1958); How Things That Can’t Exist May Exist,20-odd theater and street pieces (1958-76); Ballad/The Road and Other Linesfor 1 to 40 Instruments or Voices (1960); Meditation/The Reference Moves, The Form Remains,graphic score (1962; orchestrated, 1963); Diotima,graphic score with Tape (1963); Home Moviefor Film, Tape, and Rock Band (1963); Just Walk On In,theater work (1965); Closed Transmissionfor Tape (1966); The Bustfor Any Kind of Band (1967); The CBCD Transforms,electronic codes for acoustic performance (1968-71); Live and Let Livefor Video and Live Electronics (1972); Rememberingfor Voice and Electronics (1974); A Letter from Homefor Voice and Electronics (1976; recomposed as procedural score, 1986); No Job, No Warm, No Nothing,songs with Electronics (1976); David Kopay (Portrait)for Instruments (1976); Harvey Milk (Portrait)for Tape (1978); The White Night Riotfor Tape and Movement (1979); The Country Boy Country Dog Concertfor Improvisors and Electronics (1980; arranged as The Country Boy Country Dog Variationsfor Soloist[s] and Orch.); The World’s Greatest Piano Playerfor Electric Keyboard (1981); The Song of the Street of the Singing Chickenfor Keyboard (1981); A Rendition of Stardustfor Tape (1982); Choral Ode 3for Voice and Electronics (1987); The Forecasterfor Orch. and Electronics (1988-89); Nocturne with and without Memoryfor 1 to 3 Pianos (1988-89); The Great Seal (Transmigration)for Piano Duo (1990); My Language Is Me (Millennium)for Voice and Electronics (1990); Vocal Responses during Transformationfor Voices and Live Electronics (1990); songs.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire